Holladay voters rejected Cottonwood Mall development, but project could still survive

HOLLADAY — Even though Holladay voters shot down a controversial development on the site of the old Cottonwood Mall, the status of the project remains in limbo, days after the election.

Whether voters’ decision even matters remains tied up in the Utah Supreme Court — but even if the court rules against the validity of the referendum, the project still may not happen.

That’s because if the court takes much longer to hand down a ruling, the developers may choose to walk away.

Ivory Homes CEO Clark Ivory told the Deseret News on Thursday if the court doesn’t announce its ruling in a reasonable amount of time — within, hopefully, weeks — developers may be forced to scrap the project.

“We’re hoping it will come out sometime in the next couple of weeks,” Ivory said. “If it went beyond (that), then it would pose difficulties with us and the commitments we’ve made to the seller.”

Ivory said Ivory Homes and its partners at Woodbury Corp. decided in a meeting Wednesday they must wait for the court’s opinion, “and as soon as they do, then we can start making decisions.” But if that ruling doesn’t come soon, that puts the entire project at risk, he said.

Either way, however, Ivory said developers are invested in the court battle because a ruling in favor of the validity of the referendum could have far-reaching impacts on development issues across Utah.

“Once we have clarity, we can make decisions,” Ivory said. “But right now, we don’t have clarity.”

In a process that began nearly two years ago, city officials had given unanimous approval to the developers’ proposed project, which was revised from a higher density plan to build 775 high-rise apartments, more than 200 homes, and dozens of shops and restaurants on the 57-acre site.

Concerned by the level of new density the project would bring to Holladay, a citizen-led group gathered enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot.

City officials, arguing their approval of the plan was administrative, rejected the referendum but still printed the issue on the ballot in case it was challenged in court. Sure enough, referendum organizers sued, and a 3rd District judge ruled in favor of the referendum. City officials and developers then appealed to the Utah Supreme Court in September.

As election night tallies posted Tuesday night, Holladay Mayor Rob Dahle expressed frustrations about the absence of a court ruling.

“I remain both surprised and disappointed (the court) did not weigh in prior to Nov. 6,” Dahle said in a statement Tuesday night. “We hope to have that decision from the court in the near future, as the city still desires direction regarding future disposition of applications to amend the Cottonwood Mall (plan).”

Thursday, Holladay voters’ stark opposition to the project stirred deep concerns from business leaders about the implications of the referendum and how it could impact Utah’s creeping housing crisis.

“The overall sentiment of NIMBYism is concerning,” said Abby Osborne, vice president of government affairs for the Salt Lake Chamber.

“The irony of this is people are saying …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News


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